17 May 2006 | roghache
Best science fiction series ever, notable for character interactions
In our household we are all Trekkies, so the ongoing adventures of the Federation Star Ship Enterprise constantly enthrall us. My husband will stubbornly watch only TOS, while my teenage son feels nostalgic about TOS, but secretly prefers Voyager. As for myself, while I find some of the Next Generation plots compelling and enjoy the dangerous drama of Voyager stranded in the Delta Quadrant, there's nothing quite like the characters from TOS. The series has an innocence about it unmatched in the later ones. My compliments to the late Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator.
Captain James T. Kirk is the audacious, impulsive, and womanizing Enterprise commander. In almost every episode he has some gorgeous new love interest, seldom exhibiting much restraint! Kirk frequently engages in physical hand to hand combat with his opponents, torn shirt & sweat being common. Yet he does manage to come up with some bold and brilliant moves such as his legendary ruse, the Corbomite Manouever. Perhaps his primary task is serving as referee between the constantly sparring First Officer Spock and ship's doctor, Bones McCoy.
The heart of the series is Mr. Spock, the half Vulcan First Officer and ship's Science Officer. Actually however, Spock would maintain that he is the HEAD of the series, since he prides himself on his unfailing logic and lack of emotion. The inner conflict between his logic driven paternal Vulcan half and his emotional maternal human half form an ongoing theme. Spock possesses two useful Vulcan abilities, the neck pinch and the mind meld. The most engaging character interaction is between the logic motivated Spock versus the highly emotional ship's physician, Dr. Leonard (Bones) McCoy, who is basically a country doctor in space, a humanitarian leery of all this newfangled gadgetry. McCoy is famous in the Trek world for his expression, 'I'm a doctor, not a ----' (many phrases have been used here).
Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is a hot tempered Scotsman with a fondness for his native country's whiskey. Scotty constantly bemoans that he 'cannae change the laws of physics' all the while working assorted engineering miracles with the warp core and anti matter this or that. As for Communications Officer Uhura, she is most notable for her regular phrase, 'Hailing frequencies open, Sir.'
To be sure, some of the episodes have less than brilliant plots, notably Spock's Brain, though the character interactions always compensate for any inadequacies. However, some ideas were masterful, including The Enterprise Incident, The Menagerie, and City on the Edge of Forever. The series took on issues of overpopulation (The Mark of Gideon), social class disparity (The Cloud Minders, with its clever cloud city, Stratos), and racism (Let That Be Your Last Battlefield), which involves laughable hatred between two races, one black on the left side & white on the right, the other race vice versa. I personally enjoyed The Naked Time (Nurse Chappel admits her love for Spock), A Taste of Armageddon (computer war), This Side of Paradise (Spock frolics), and Is There in Truth No Beauty? (the Medusan ambassador's incredible ugliness causes madness in the hapless onlooker). However, my absolute favourite is unquestionably the absurd Amok Time, with Spock's ridiculous pon farr mating strife.
The Enterprise crew consists of a racially diverse group, with its black Communications Officer Uhura and Oriental helmsman Sulu. The ship's navigator, Chekov, is Russian...quite a revolutionary idea for that Cold War era. The cast are perfect in their roles, including William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), and all the others. Special tribute to the late Deforest Kelly (McCoy) and James Doohan (Scotty), who are sadly missed.
This is the series that gave us such technologies as the transporter, tricorder, and cloaking device...high tech weaponry including phasers and photon torpedoes...futuristic games like three dimensional chess...miracle drugs such as cordrazine...and gourmet delicacies like Saurian brandy & Romulan ale. Some of the gadgetry gave a sneak preview of such later real life technology as computer floppy discs.
In addition to the highly logical Vulcans, Star Trek gave us glimpses of such alien species as the honour driven Klingons and the sneaky Romulans (the Federation's two primary enemies), also the xenophobic Tholians, the reptilian Gorn, and many others. It treated us to the endearing rock like, silicon based Horta and the cute & fuzzy but all too prolific Tribbles (which caused no end of Trouble). And it acquainted us with such planets as Sarpeidon, Eminiar & Vendikar.
In the episode Metamorphosis, we were all introduced to the heroic Zephram Cochrane who invented the warp drive way back in 2063. In constant demand is the dilithium vital to the warp engine's functioning. Star Trek also acquainted us with the United Federation of Planets, Starfleet & Starfleet Academy, and the Federation's much vaunted strict rule called the Prime Directive, which is frequently mentioned but universally ignored!
Star Trek is simply an incredibly fun and entertaining science fiction series, though it was hardly appreciated back in the 1960's when it originally aired. Fortunately, it lives on today in re runs, giving Trekkies the ongoing excitement of regularly 'boldly going where no man has gone before'. Live long and prosper, everyone!